Running the Race

Tomorrow marks six weeks since Election Day, six weeks since Baby Incredible was brought into my life. I have been his foster mom for exactly the same amount of time that his birth mom was his full time mom. I can’t help but wonder what that must be like for Baby Incredible. He must think that I’m his mom, yet what must he think when we have visits with his birth mom? Babies are such a wonder to me. They begin dreaming in the womb. That fascinates me. What do they dream about? As much as science advances, we have no real idea what is going on in their growing brains. I kind of like it that way. I have a lot of questions to ask God when I get to heaven.

Last year at right around this time, I was in Hawaii running a marathon. I never thought I would be any kind of a runner at all, let alone a full marathon finisher. I trained and prepared and persevered and needed a lot of help and support and cheerleaders.

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This year I have been running a different kind of marathon that have needed equal amounts of preparation, perseverance, help, support, and cheerleaders.

When I ran the Honolulu marathon, I was prepared for shin splints and fatigue and windedness. Of course, I did experience all of those things, but what I did not expect was severe hip pain. I had trained and not experienced that. It threw me for a curve, and I needed to bring in reinforcements. I stopped at every station for ice and took Advil. And I limped my way through. We had been training to complete the marathon by doing a run/walk regiment. Towards the end, it hurt so much to transition from one to the other that I had to do a continuous run, something else I was not prepared for, despite my training and experience of running 3 previous half marathons.

When Baby Incredible became my second foster baby, I thought I knew what to expect, for the most part. After all, I’d done this once before. Well, like comparing my half marathon runs to my first full marathon run, comparing my first fostering experience to my second was like comparing an easy jog to a full out sprint.

I had what could possibly be described as the easiest and most desirable circumstances the first time around. Sure, I felt the anxiety of the agency as they operated (and still do) out of fear, but that was nothing.

This time, I have one social worker who knows squat about babies and doesn’t have the greatest people skills, and I have another social worker who hasn’t the slightest idea what it’s like to be a full time teacher while taking care of an infant as a single woman, let alone a foster baby that requires all kinds of appointments and paperwork. She lives at home with her parents and drives a nice car that they bought her. I have a birth mom who is a product of the foster care system and is completely jaded and a control freak, making my job much harder. I also have key questions about who does have say and control over this baby, and no one seems to want to answer those questions.

My therapist recently asked me why she thought God was allowing me to be “picked on”. I was a little taken aback by the question at first because I haven’t really looked at it like that. I’ve simply been doing my best to persevere and grow and learn. It is true, though; I have been picked on these past 6 weeks, and I don’t say that in a victimized kind of way. It’s more of a recognition that God has been allowing it for a reason. The reason is that I have been learning to use my voice. As a former child of Selective Mutism and a current battler of Social Anxiety Disorder, this process of learning to use my voice and becoming comfortable with it has been a long process.

I have had to stand up for Baby Incredible and for myself. I have had to be an initiator and have hard conversations with people who should know better. I have had to search out my allies and realize that some who are meant to be my allies actually are not. I have had to search out the people who will do best by Baby Incredible and bypass those who are nothing but road blocks, despite their intentions to help. I have used my voice in powerful ways, and I have surprised those who know my struggle with using my voice.

I have been learning and growing a lot, and I am so grateful for all of the people in my life who have stuck by me as I learn to ask for help, stand up for myself, and not be codependent in some difficult situations. As I am learning all of this, I am also learning to be a good girlfriend and be led by an amazing man. As one of my cherished mentors recently said to me, we are on a fast spiritual life track. I am grateful to be running the race that God marked out for me, and I am grateful for all those who are running with me and cheering me on.

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